Although exactly how a utility will be structured hasn’t been figured out, a consensus has been reached by a Rehoboth task force that a utility is needed to deal with stormwater infrastructure issues.
During a meeting May 3, city consultant and AECOM engineer Dave Athey and Public Works Director Kevin Williams presented a spreadsheet to the Rehoboth Beach Stormwater Utility Task Force saying there are about $600,000 in non-capital improvement-related expenses, and between $1.2 million and $1.5 million worth of stormwater capital improvements needed in the years to come, beginning with next year’s budget.
The city sees deficiencies every day. When it rains, there are a lot of calls, said Williams.
Multiple task force members suggested a hybrid model – create a utility dedicated to the capital improvements, but pay employees and other operating expenses out of the city’s general fund.
One option presented was the city taking on the debt with a low-interest loan, then paying it off. Williams said the city has roughly $65 million in debt right now, with a possible maximum of $75 million. The city hasn’t reached its debt capacity, but officials don’t have an appetite to add more, he said.
Grants were presented as a funding option. Williams said he would be happy to accept those funds, but there simply isn’t much available.
The primary message from just about everybody on the task force was education the issue would be key to getting the citizenry on board.
Member Janice Miller said she was hesitant to use the phrase climate change because she knows that subject becomes political. The city will need to work with the community to let them know there’s a problem, she said.
Supporting Miller’s opinion, Frank Cooper and Bruce Williams said framing it as a climate change problem wouldn’t be necessary because it’s a deferred maintenance issue. There’s aging infrastructure and an increase in runoff due to the increase in development, said Cooper.
Unrelated to the creation of a utility, Jan Konesey said she would like to see city code rewritten to include impervious pavement requirements for new construction and some kind of credit for property owners who retrofit improvements.
The task force’s next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, June 7.
Planning commission postpones approval of 2020 CDP
The Rehoboth Beach Planning Commission had been expected to review the final draft of the city’s 2020 comprehensive development plan during a special meeting May 4, but that was canceled.
In a May 3 press release from Chair Michael Bryan, the reason given for canceling the meeting was to allow commission members more time to review the document.
Lynne Coan, city spokesperson, said she anticipates the CDP discussion and expected vote to take place as part of the planning commission’s regular meeting Friday, May 13.